Thousander Club Update: February 12th

For this week’s Thousander Club update:

Game Hours: 262.25 (previous year) + 25.75 (current year) = 288 / 1000
Game Ideas: 616 (previous year) + 0 (current year) = 616 / 1000

On Thursday, I found The Ultimate Space Invaders Shrine which provided a lot of useful information about how the original game was implemented. I haven’t played the original game in a long time, and any games I do play are clones which may or may not be faithful ports. The Shrine had a tips section that gave me a lot of information about how the original game played. I know that the aliens had three different kinds of missiles, that the various aliens were worth different amounts of points, and that the aliens started at a lower point on the screen every level for 10 levels before starting over from the top.

My clone currently mimics the original in that the player can only shoot one missile at a time and the aliens can only shoot three missiles at once. I have not implemented shelters nor have I added a bonus ship flying across the top of the screen at random times. The aliens only have one type of missile, and the player’s missiles can’t hit it. All of the aliens are currently worth the same amount of points. The aliens can’t land yet, so if you manage to let them get past your ship, they will continue until the offset of the sprite hits some limit, and then the game will crash.

I’ve added HUD elements so that you can see how many points you have as well as the number of ships you have in reserve. If you pause the game, “PAUSED” shows up in the middle of the screen. If you shoot down all of the aliens, the message “PREPARE FOR THE NEXT WAVE!” is displayed. If you lose your last reserve ship, it says “GAME OVER”.

I am not sure if I want to make the game exactly the same as the original, and I was planning on doing a few things differently. I would prefer to have some originality in this game. For instance, instead of just starting the aliens lower on the screen and making them a little faster at the start of a new level, I could increase the number of missiles they fire as well as the speed. Maybe I might even let the blast radius matter, so if a missile collides with the ground, you still have to make sure that your ship is far enough away to be safe. Perhaps I might add new alien types with different abilities.

These are important design decisions, so I can’t just add them willy-nilly. I have to think about how I want this game to feel when someone else plays it. In the meantime, I am pleased with how well it is turning out.

Space Invaders: Now with HUD elements!

5 comments to Thousander Club Update: February 12th

  • Essentially if you start adding things, you’ll have stuff like, galaxian and galaga forming… these were just variations of the space invaders theme. I believe galaxian introduced the “out of formation” flyers… And then galaga added the “double ship” option, where the galagas capture your ship and you have to shoot them, and finally get a double ship (minus a life)

    This is the cool thing though. You should start with a variation, make sure it balances well, and there are no bugs, then introduce another, and soon your game will be completely different.

  • True, eventually what I will have might not be different from a clone of another game. B-)

    My main concern is that I don’t want to spend too much time on adding new features and twists. Of course, what is “too much” defined as? I don’t want to make a straight clone, and so it will take me some time to do something different. I’m just worried because this game was supposed to be finished by now.

    Of course, now I know a lot more about the game, game development, and what it takes to make the progress I have made. This learning process is more important to me than this specific game. I don’t expect to be able to make the best game I have the potential to make until I learn how to make it, and this game is just a stepping stone to it.

    I think what I am experiencing is the problem a lot of people have: finishing. Part of me thinks that I’ve already accomplished finishing this game, but I know I haven’t really finished it. I keep reading on indiegamer.com that people have a problem with the “last 90%”, but now that I am experiencing it, I can know exactly what that problem is like. I can appreciate the significance of the problem more.

    In a way, it is humbling. I thought that I “knew” all about the normal problems lone wolf indie developers have, and I suppose it is embarrassing because I didn’t expect them to be so significant. I already know that experience counts more than supposed knowledge, but it is surprising when you realize that you still had an assumption about something you haven’t gone through yet.

  • Mostly it’s about what you think is done. If you think it needs more things you should add them. If you want to move on, you could go ahead, it works as a complete game, and that’s the main part. Although you could kill yourself and make sure it’s “publishable” which means making sure it has tons of polish, sound, graphics, and everything you’d expect if you were to sell it.

    You can move on to the next thing secure that you did actually make it a complete game, or you can use each game as practice for something publishable, and go the extra mile with it.

    If you were starving and this is the only job you could get, the only thing you knew. What would you do to make this space invaders clone publishable? That could be your gauge for finishing it. Or you could just go on to the next thing. It’s up to you 🙂

  • Hi GBGames. I identify with your comment about how the situation can become a bit embarassing. I think you should focus on “the problem a lot of people have: finishing”. Go ahead and make a clone with no new ideas. Fix the crash that happens when the ships go too far down the screen. Get some shelters. Make it playable and say it is done. Clap your hands, dance a little, have a pint, and then think about new features.

    Then when people ask about the project, you don’t have to be embarrassed when you say, “Well, I’m still working on some features.” Instead you can proudly say, “It’s done! Now I’m making version 1.1, which will have new features!” Is it a lie? I don’t think so. You can have something that other people can play, and if you decide that another idea is more worth your time instead of new ideas in this game, you can still feel satisfied that you did come to a stopping point on this project.

    So, when can we play with it?

    Cheers!
    Neil

  • Neil: You’re absolutely right. I have already been taking some features and ideas and labeling them as “Version 2.0” features because I didn’t want them to distract me from finishing a simple game. I already anticipated the benefits of providing games in a digital format. Updating them can be quite easy after the initial release.

    Now, I’m not saying that I like the idea of bug fixes and patches after a game is released; I don’t think this easy ability to update software is an excuse for poor execution. Releasing something sooner and working on updates in the meantime is just a better proposition than waiting until the end. I’m not working on some cutting-edge, unique-selling-point laden, awe-inspiring project. I’m participating in a learning experience. I need to get it out there quicker so that I can learn about the process of making games for an audience quicker.